The Safety Coordinator Recognition Award was given to Rich Wallace, Sanders County HR/Safety Coordinator. Also pictured is Carol Brooker, Sanders County Commissioner, who accepted the the MACo Risk Management Awards on behalf of Sanders County.

The MACo Risk Management Awards Luncheon was held on Wednesday, February 13, 2019 at the Midwinter Conference in Helena.  MACo recognizes counties exhibiting a continued commitment to job site safety and whose safety performance and programs are excellent.  The Awards promote awareness of workplace health and safety throughout the counties and offer the opportunity for counties to share model programs.  This year, awards were presented to Sanders County and Dawson County.

In addition, we presented a Safety Coordinator Recognition Award to Rich Wallace, Human Resource Director /Safety Coordinator for Sanders County. He has been with Sanders County for three years.   He worked for 32 years for two retailers – JCPenney (28 years) and  Tractor Supply ( 4 years). Throughout his career, safety in distribution center operations was a critical focus. Making his transition from private sector business to county government has been interesting, but his safety skills that he developed are directly transferable.

Mary Jo Gehnert, Dawson County Safety Coordinator, accepted the MACo Risk Management Award on behalf of Dawson County.

The biggest challenge that Rich and the safety team had to overcome was the employees understanding of the value of training and awareness. Sanders County sought the support of MACo  to understand the key issues that drove our high injury rate. Both Loss Control and Workers Claim Administration for MACo helped them target the circumstances and develop a training protocol.  Rich was very thankful for trainers that were highly motivating speakers with “real life” application and life skills that were transferable to an employee’s personal life. The employees embraced the training.  From that point, the safety team involved the employees and made them part of the solution by uncovering the root cause. The safety team

wanted the employees’ suggestions and help to identify potential safety violations and potential issues. Employees started coming forward and they built upon their success.

Rich cares about the employees and  at the end of day he just wants to make sure that all employees return home from work the same manner they arrived-safe and unhurt.

Emelia McEwen  |  MACo PCT/WCT Sr. Loss Control Specialist  |  emcewen@mtcounties.org  |  (406) 449-4370